A waiter saw us picking fruit and eating them, but he just smiled with a bow! So we guessed what we were doing was all okay to them!
Whew! I reached the check-in counters where a “CLOSED” sign was already posted below my flight number. But charm and being a frequently seen face I think, got me through hehe. I heard the radio-wielding girl say “sige na, sige na, waray ito check-in baggage hi sir” To which I added a gratefully smiling “always”! That, as a friend from PAL Tacloban came to tap my shoulder saying “5J ka na naman? di ka na yata sumasakay sa PR ah”! To which my 5J check-in staff giggly said “bakit, masama ba?” And we bantered a bit until the radio-wielding woman came to say “sir, final call”! So I rushed to enter the pre-departure area, straight to the boarding gate!
What a Balimbing story!
Aw okay folks, some things I learned that you might wanna know:
Rafael’s Farm is (actually) not really in Tacloban but already in the town of Babatngon, Leyte - adjacent and next to Tacloban City on its northern border.
It’s not that near. It is about 11kms from that big intersection alone where going right is to the San Juanico Bridge and going straight is to Babatngon. So I think, that should be about 20kms if measured from Tacloban’s city center.
If you don’t have your own vehicle, a commuter jeep ride going to Babatngon is your only way, and they come far in between like sometimes even an hour or more. So, not really for just anyone who may have a few minutes to spare. If you’re lucky, you might just be able to find a habal-habal in the city or from that famed corner to San Juanico Bridge. Am not sure trikes regularly ply this long route but I’ve seen some.
After that San Juanico intersection, try looking on both sides of the road. They’re picturesque rice fields especially during early mornings and late afternoons. Their colors vary depending on the season. Brownish black, when the paddies are still wet and being prepared for planting; green to lush green as the palay grows; yellow-gold on green when ready for harvest yellow-orange to bright brown when harvest was just about finished and the dried stalks remain. Then it cycles again!
Averrhoa carambola. is the scientific name of Balimbing. They call it “star fruit” in English because of the shape when cut cross-wise. Hey did you know this thing is named similarly in Malaysia and Indonesia? Well, there is a one-letter difference in the spelling since theirs is “belimbing” where the “be” is pronounced something like a cross between how you say the “bi” in bird and the “bu” in burn.
Finally, as for “Rafael’s Farm and Restaurant”, I know I’ll be back! For nothing!